Throttlegate: Dell covering up laptop issue [Updated]

Dell may have a serious issue on its hands with their E6400 and E6500 laptops.

Hundreds of reports have been surfacing on the official dell support forums stating that they have had "massive performance issues...whenever the devices get slightly warm the BIOS automatically starts dialling down the performance until they basically crawl to a halt, some indicating that even when cool they won't go over 50% of maximum clock".

Computer issues are nothing new and many manufactures have had their fair share of problems in the past, but what makes this one interesting is that Dell will not acknowledge the problem; they have gone as far as trying to cover up the issue by banning members.

The most prominent member of the Dell support forums, Tinkerdude, created a PDF entitled "Performance loss during normal operation in a Dell Latitude E6500 laptop due to processor and bus clock throttling" that explains in detail the problem and potential solutions. The user was banned after this PDF was posted to the forum which leads many to believe that Dell does not want this problem to be known publicly.

Update: It appears that the issue may be due to an underpowered PSU. The laptops ship with a 90 watt PSU but need a 130 watt PSU, likewise, the downgraded performance was only occurring while running on AC power. If you have one of these laptops and are using a 90 watt power supply, you may want to contact Dell.

Update #2: Dell has released several updates that supposedly will remedy the situation mentioned above; although, other reports are starting to surface that the Alienware m15x and Studio XPS 1645 may be suffering from similar issues of throttling. Lionel from Dell support also commented on this report (see below) and states "We're aware of concerns raised in this post and others like it. At this point, our teams are looking into the details. When we have more information to share, we'll update customers via a post on Dell's blog, Direct2Dell."

Thanks for the update tip amrit

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I work for a Hospital in the UK, we spend literally 100's of thousands of pounds a year on Dell products (we're a large hospital). The E6400 is our mainstay laptop & we have them listed on our premier pages for us to purchase. However when this "issue" arrose they have strangley dissapeared. I contacted our account Manager (such as they are in dell) asking why they had been removed but I didn't alude to the PSU issue. I have received a read receipt but no answer. I have again Emailed the account manager & his senior. I have read receipts from both of them but guess what..... no reply. Hmmmmmmm when will Dell realise that they cannot exsist without any customer & when you treat customers like this they WILL LEAVE. We are condsidering changing our machines to HP, the service we get from Dell is appalling.

Hi, all.

I want to clear up some of the FUD around the banning and censorship inaccuracies. The user in question, Dell Forum name tinkerdude, was not banned. He was not censored. He has posted a link to his pdf on our forums in this post, which is not a violation of our terms of service, and we are fine with. Additionally, he posted this link on July 31, long before Brad states here "The user was banned after this PDF was posted to the forum which leads many to believe that Dell does not want this problem to be known publicly." If we had a problem with this document being known publicly, why would we have left the post with the download link in tact for 5 months before Brad posted here? Happy to discuss the history of these allegations with you any time offline or here, Brad.
Three of tinkerdude's posts were removed for specific violations of our terms of service. Each time we emailed him a copy of his original post giving him the opportunity to edit and repost. However, there is some doubt whether our site admins sent the third letter, as he stated to me in a phone conversation today that he did not receive the third notice. Fair enough. We probably dropped the ball there. The specific violations that led to the post(s) being removed were for character substitutions in order to circumvent the profanity filter (not allowed on our forums or blogs).
I since asked the senior forum admin to locate the post in question. I edited it and reposted it here in chronological order with tinkerdude's foreknowledge and approval. I also provided him with my email address and contact numbers, and let him know I'm available 24/7 to get any post he may have deleted in the future edited and restored to the original thread. I also committed to him that I would pass on the insightful feedback he had concerning our process for handling terms of service violations.
Thanks for reading.

Bill Bivin
Dell, Inc

The m15x issue is a load of BS. It's due to an older bios and SOME cpu models would downclock. Updating the bios fixes this issue.
I own two, so I know about it. Or rather, don't - as I haven't had the issue on them.

The user was banned after this PDF was posted to the forum which leads many to believe that Dell does not want this problem to be known publicly.

Funny. The took the exact course of action to ENSURE publicity on the issue. Fail ><.

I'm glad I read this post, I've always owned HP laptops, and my current is the HDX 9000 behemoth that I've had no problems with luckily and before that pretty much all HP. I've been looking to upgrade next month and was taking a hard look at Dell, but have to agree with some others that they seem a bit overpriced, which I could live with, but poor service and unreliable machines is something I can't risk. Looks like I'll be sticking with HP for awhile. I still think Logitech Harmony remotes take the prize for worst customer service. $250 remotes that require internet connection and constant calling to program and they now charge you after 60 days to talk to them, just a heads up.

We have about 120 of these notebooks where I work and I am in charge of all of them hardware/software wise. We run Windows XP SP2 and are going to SP3 soon. I'd say about 85-90% of these machine boot and log in VERY VERY slowly and about 70% of the time. Very frustrating. It's not even a slow down doing multiple things like Dell suggests. Some are this slow right from cold boot!

These E6500/E5500 make the D531 we used to order look like a speed demon!

Is this an issue only with the i7? We have 20+ E6400 and E6500's with more on the way but no issues so far. My own department E6500 used for Ghosting works with no issues at all. But we only have the P9600 in our E series...

We have over 100 of these falvors in our department. 90% of them are used in vehicles which only have the 65 Watt power supply.. so imagine the agony. I however do not experience as much of an issue as I am on a 90 Watt the whole time.

Thank you for contacting Dell Warranty Support.

I understand you want the 90w AC adapter of your system to be replaced with a 130w because of the article you have read from a web site that lowers down the performance of the system with a 90w AC adapter.

I have to apologize but we haven't received a communication from our bosses about this matter. Hence, we can't replace your AC adapter to a 130w. The tested AC adapters for your system are the following:

65-W travel adapter
90-W AC adapter
130-W Dell adapter PA-4E

For now, we could only replace what is listed on the order details of your machine. And that's the one that came with your system.

As for the slowness, you may run a defrag so your files and programs will be organized for faster reloading and makes the computer to run better.

If you experience the slowness problem again, please tell us more about it such as when does it happen? what have you tried so far? and etc. We would be happy to help you anytime.

Ok I can live with that for now, till they figure out what is going on and setup a plan on their end.

But my question is.. why would the 130-W Dell Adapter PA-4E, even be tested as an option on these systems, if it only needs a 90 Watt to begin with?

xendrome said,


Ok I can live with that for now, till they figure out what is going on and setup a plan on their end.

But my question is.. why would the 130-W Dell Adapter PA-4E, even be tested as an option on these systems, if it only needs a 90 Watt to begin with?


I would say the reason why the 130-W Dell Adapter PA-4E is there is becuase it would be for a docking station.

this is just another reason to not trust dell and dump there garbage and switch to something better like Acer and Toshiba.Dell garbage is similar to Apple Garbage.

soldier1st said,
this is just another reason to not trust dell and dump there garbage and switch to something better like Acer and Toshiba.Dell garbage is similar to Apple Garbage.

Acer and Toshiba?

I really dont understand why everyone hates Dell laptops so much. Their desktop is crap but Dell's laptops are great.

I've had two Dells in the last 7 years. NO issues, but, when I order them, I always opt for the BIGGER AC power adapter, or if not available I pay the extra money and get the biggest one (wattage) I can find. Garbage in, garbage out. I've seen the underpowered AC bricks before. Other techs I work with have a multitude of laptops with OEM bricks and some of them get so hot, the plastic deforms. My E1505 has been in my tool bag, bounced up countless steps on a wheelie cart (in sleep mode) for over four years, not ONE problem with it, other than battle damage to the case.

naap51stang said,
I've had two Dells in the last 7 years. NO issues, but, when I order them, I always opt for the BIGGER AC power adapter, or if not available I pay the extra money and get the biggest one (wattage) I can find. Garbage in, garbage out. I've seen the underpowered AC bricks before. Other techs I work with have a multitude of laptops with OEM bricks and some of them get so hot, the plastic deforms. My E1505 has been in my tool bag, bounced up countless steps on a wheelie cart (in sleep mode) for over four years, not ONE problem with it, other than battle damage to the case.


I have a XPS1340 (i think) but the brick gets so hot at times i cant pick it up...

i think i might be ringing XPS support today >:D

Just checking, since I don't think anyone else brought this up, but are PDFs still a risk format for spreading malware? I feel like they were at one time. I really just don't follow that sort of thing, but if they are a risk, I'd ban a user that posts one--or at least delete the thread. I imagine there were other posters who were banned aside from that one?

This is why I called my local tech support to ask their opinion on what Dell to get (student discount made it my only Windows option).
They said stay away from Latitudes as they are the #1 customer in hardware problems for them and XPS because they've had problems too.
I love my Studio 1745. Wish I got it a month later/15" screen.

Umm I'd like to see where these stats/numbers are coming from or based off of.. I have a ton of Dell Systems, Optiplex, Latitude, Inspiron, XPS, and I don't normally have ANY hardware problems. Usually I end up having hard-drive failures. Which technically isn't Dell's hardware anyway..

It was from their personal stats (Oklahoma State University student tech support). They pulled this from the average laptop models that come in to them. They had many Latitudes, some XPSs, hardly any Studios.

that's cool, i have the XPS 1645 - what bad luck, ironically this system was an exchange for my faulty E1705. I hope Dell can address it soon, I've had computer problems to deal with for 4 months now!

We're aware of concerns raised in this post and others like it. At this point, our teams are looking into the details. When we have more information to share, we'll update customers via a post on Dell's blog, Direct2Dell.

Thanks,
LionelatDell

Karo - 323z IT said,
More like Singh at DellMumbai, American support is nonexistent.

Dell support in general is virtually nonexistent.

@Lionel, thanks for the response on this issue. When can we expect Dell's business practices in general to improve?

M_Lyons10 said,
Dell support in general is virtually nonexistent.

@Lionel, thanks for the response on this issue. When can we expect Dell's business practices in general to improve?


Yeah, like he's going to be able to answer that alone

We have hundreds of these at work and nobody have reported any issues with them. I haven't seen any performance problem either. Must investigate this tomorrow.

The same thing is happening to my MSI PR400. any others out there that have the MSI PR400 and this is happening to you? or is it just me?

Anyway to find out what my notebook PSU Watt is ?

Remember the dude that was on the Dell's commercial "Dude, I got a Dell!" that got fired from taking drugs? Well, that's why he took drugs, because he got a Dell!

java2beans said,
Remember the dude that was on the Dell's commercial "Dude, I got a Dell!" that got fired from taking drugs? Well, that's why he took drugs, because he got a Dell!

He bought a bag of marijuana. I think buying a 6pack of beer is worse.

As I have said since I learned my lesson after owning my first and last Dell in 1998, just remember what the word "Dell" rhymes with!

rdburke said,
As I have said since I learned my lesson after owning my first and last Dell in 1998, just remember what the word "Dell" rhymes with!

Fell? If you looking for Fail, Dale would be closer.

not surprised at all. I remember my message/posting was deleted once when I posted about some issue I had with my dell computer.

The dell support forum is just a joke. Guess the moderators are nothing but a bunch of janitors covering up Dell shabby practices.

hahahaha!!!! brilliant! My MD throttled me to get him one asap! Was somewhat impressed with it at the start.... and he has asked why it isnt as fast when using it for some time in front of the tv... asked him if he was blocking the vents, and got a blasting for daring to question the design and r&d of a company like dell, and what kind of IT support do i offer? So................................... i posted him this link................... silence....!!!!!!!!!!!!

aaah!

am pretty sure that some form of a bios fix will be made available at some time, IMHO, i have some 250 dells of various models in the field, and support from dell has been pretty good! better than lenovo.... but please, dont make me go there!!! :P

Thanks all, i enjoyed reading this post!

This infuriates me. I have had this issue in my Inspiron 6400 for years and no forum, no website and no support could figure it out. I ended up having to buy a new laptop.

::Edit:: I can't even get into the community section of the site to view the forums! lol

NateB said,
This infuriates me. I have had this issue in my Inspiron 6400 for years and no forum, no website and no support could figure it out. I ended up having to buy a new laptop.

::Edit:: I can't even get into the community section of the site to view the forums! lol

Funny since this article is talking a bout e6400/e6500 laptops which are Latitude series.

I have had the same exact issue described in the pdf. Seeing that Dell never gave me a solid answer i would be hard pressed to not think that they are related.

Just an FYI on the air intake being on the bottom. It is easier to get an air intake there on the bottom than it is on the side. If they put it on the side then you can't get other items there as it takes space. My laptop has intakes on the bottom and they work fine. There are usually exhaust on the side to get the warm air out. If you are really worried get a cooling pad with a fan on it and prop up the laptop with it.

Anyways I would contact them over the phone about it.

They need to just make a statement on this and offer a BIOS fix. Toshiba had the same issue a while back with P4 processors on their laptops and ended up losing the class action lawsuit.

The very least Dell could do is state that they are aware of the issue and are working on a solution.

I hope this won't be too big of a issue and hope a fix will be out there. I have 75 of these at our school district here right now and would hate to start getting complaints about these new computers going slow.

i have noticed this on my E6500. I will be working as normal and out of nowhere i cannot do anything and the computer basically freezes. If there is a problem it is Dell's job to fix it - not cover it up.

Xilo said,
I thought PCs just worked?

What a strange and mysterious world you live in, where all PCs are Dells. Is the sky a different color where you live?

Same here, about 5 e6400's and close to 20 e6500's and no known issues or performance complaints. My own department e6500 used for Ghosting works flawlessly under Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit. Though I did have a complaint with Vista Ultimate, the mouse would pause for just a brief moment once in a while... drove me crazy. Driver issue maybe... it no longer does it in 7.

Don't think this will be a big problem, Dell are probably stalling for time, while they rewrite the firmware. Anyone familiar with Dell products will be well aware of the continual need to re-flash firmware. The company I work for uses all Dell products, and I have to say they have all been very reliable, only let down by appallingly poorly trained support staff - who are total s**t.

Obviously this does not excuse denial and particularly banning members from their forum. Having said that Neowin is not adverse to temporary bans and using a heavy hand... "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!"

I own a Dell laptop and have been completely satisfied with it, but ignoring issues definitely isn't a good move by Dell. Sure would make me not want to purchase another laptop. I already don't plan on getting another through their website. Their financial services are ridiculous.

xiphi said,
I own a Dell laptop and have been completely satisfied with it, but ignoring issues definitely isn't a good move by Dell. Sure would make me not want to purchase another laptop. I already don't plan on getting another through their website. Their financial services are ridiculous.

Dell Financial Services is being sued by several State Attorney Generals (NY and PA that I know of offhand) as a result of fraudulent business practices...

What fraudulent services? I'd like to know more.

My own experience with Dell's laptops these past years have been up and down the hill. OOBEs were always good. No software issues whatsoever up to now. However battery starts dying down right after the 1 year warranty expired. Now, for that I don't know if it's by design or not, but it's certainly a double eye blades for them that can give them profit or cut them back some customers.

M_Lyons10 said,
Dell Financial Services is being sued by several State Attorney Generals (NY and PA that I know of offhand) as a result of fraudulent business practices... ;)

Got any links to provide? Would love to see how that goes.

I do love their laptops, but I will NOT ever recommend them to anyone not willing to pay up front (ex. buy at Wal-Mart). A few times Dell has caused late fee's that I was not able to avoid thanks to their incompetence. I pay online, so when their online services go offline or malfunction I'm the one who has to pay the extra costs. That includes late fees, and any other costs incurred from dealing with their support. Ridiculous, I tell you! Granted, it hasn't happened much, but I'm still paying on a laptop I bought in March of 2007. My current balance reads $1,282 while my laptop cost just under $1,500. You would think it'd be a lot lower after all this time of paying about $42 a month, which amounts to almost more than what my laptop cost.

To put it in on contrast, I was able to pay off another $700 Dell pc in a year at a rent-to-own place which absolutely no issues.

xiphi said,
Got any links to provide? Would love to see how that goes.

Links? Suuuuure...

Here's the recent settlement with NY ($ 4 Million):

http://www.nyagdell.com/

Here's a multi-state settlement ($ 3.35 Million):

http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/press.aspx?id=4188

There is also an active case in PA separate from the multi-state settlement above (It hasn't yet been settled). I don't know if there are other settlements in the works.

As for Dell, I used to love the company. I have like 9 or 10 Dell's... But given their service I don't think I will buy another.

And you're right about Dell Financial Services. They rip off the consumer royally. A friend had them screw up her payment. They received a payment in full and credited her account 2 dollars less than her payment amount. This resulted in the computer not being paid off before the interest free period, so then they wanted to collect the interest. They refused to correct the issue, and even after the acknowledged the mistake they had made still insisted that she had to pay the interest.

In my situation I had purchased my computer in October and each statement stated that the date everything had to be paid in full was this date in October. I had it paid off before that. They then changed that date to some time in September and are now demanding that I pay the interest... I don't think I have EVER dealt with a company this shady in my life. To just change the terms and retroact a a term date?

They deserve what they get.

Thanks for the links, M_Lyons10. I wish this was a federal issue rather than by state. It sucks for small time people like me because there's not much we can do, or at least that I or any else could be aware of. It's a shame that Georgia wasn't part of the multi-state settlement since that's the state I live in.

I had a friend of mine go through hell with their customer service last year when she had issues with her laptop not keeping a charge. They kept making excuses as to why her laptop wasn't fixed yet or sent off. Got so bad at one point that they "lost" her laptop. This went one for about 2 months. She finally sent a message to the BBB, and wasn't long afterward that Dell finally gave her a new laptop.

If I designed a crappy product I guess I wouldn't want people posting proof about it either - (PDF's). Not cool Dell
-1.

Jakal said,
If I designed a crappy product I guess I wouldn't want people posting proof about it either - (PDF's). Not cool Dell
-1.

LOL

Jakal said,
If I designed a crappy product I guess I wouldn't want people posting proof about it either - (PDF's). Not cool Dell
-1.

LOL

Seriously!! This wouldn't be such an issue if it were designed correctly. Why don't manufacturers get that?

http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=4808

Air intake on the bottom? So if it's on someone's lap or a semi-soft surface, this 'intake' is not working at all. On hard surface it's raised a few mm. Probably not much cool air moving in that 4mm under the laptop.

From the link above...

"I mentioned sounds made by the hard drive—by default the drive "clicks" (like a watch). After a while it gets on the nerves. The NBR forum has some lengthy threads about this issue. You can do things to prevent the clicking noise but still the hum of the disk can be heard."

All the E6400's I have at work do that. It's REALLY annoying.

S7un7 said,
Air intake on the bottom?

It is one of the dumbest things Ive noticed on my laptop....Why is there a air in/outtake on the bottom???

nokiaxion said,
It is one of the dumbest things Ive noticed on my laptop....Why is there a air in/outtake on the bottom???

Good question; my Macbook has them at the back.

Then again, it goes back to the stupid idea of rebranding them as notebooks and not laptops.

Banning a customer from your website for posting a problem is disgusting and a great way to ensure that they never buy your product again.

If Dell keeps giving their customers the Apple treatment they will start to shift their marketshare to Apple's level as well.

Damn, True...
I know about dell support center because I have worked closely with them for a month.
They have documentation which they dont want to disclose it to the customers that has known issues with dell Products.

C_Guy said,
Banning a customer from your website for posting a problem is disgusting and a great way to ensure that they never buy your product again.

If Dell keeps giving their customers the Apple treatment they will start to shift their marketshare to Apple's level as well.

Stardock does this to, garbage company, but are dells really worth it ive always seen them as being fairly overpriced, that and their support is in india and its atrocious

C_Guy said,
Banning a customer from your website for posting a problem is disgusting and a great way to ensure that they never buy your product again.

If Dell keeps giving their customers the Apple treatment they will start to shift their marketshare to Apple's level as well.


They banned me for talking about my m1730's battery dying 1 week out of warranty and about 100 others also. If ya look up the battery for the m1730 on dell's webshop, you see, a LOT of users with the problem.. We can't post it tho as it gets deleted and we get banned.

Don't really care for Dell computers, but that's just me with a history of seeing them fail. Hell, my friend's first Dell computer froze the same day he got it, trying to get some software that came with it installed.

I do like their monitors, that's for sure. Never in the hundreds of monitors I've seen in our labs, at home, etc. have I seen a dead pixel, much less had a single problem with any of them.

dead.cell said,
So they went the Apple route then. :P

Dell has turned in to a horrible company. I have 9 of their computers, and I will never buy another Dell. They've become a really crapy company. After purchasing my last laptop last year I had to have it repaired by Dell 4 times... One time they sent it back having not even done a repair (Yet they managed to break the keyboard...)... *sigh*

Dell is really becoming a garbage company for sure. Quality is going down, the customer service is just terrible. They just got sued by the NY Attorney General and the PA Attorney General (Maybe more) for fraud related to their 'interest free' payment plans...

They're very shady.

I used to be a big fan of Dell and I personally own several of their laptops including an expensive XPS and while I have no had any hardware problems (luckily),...I have had major problems with their customer service and production. The customer service is friendly but they can't seem to find their own heads let alone make sense of anything. My XPS took ~10 weeks for delivery!! How frickin' crazy is that! They just kept delaying and delaying and delaying and nobody could tell me why or when it was going to come. Then suddenly it shows up on my door. I was literally talking to the customer service rep while she's trying to find out when my order is going to be delivered and the door bell rings....and there is my laptop.

They used to be good. I used to really like how fast they could get a quote out for my corporate orders and the level of technical support on the servers but it's all a joke now. Half the time I can't understand what the hell the guy on the other end is saying. Sorry Dell, you've lost your edge.

Neoauld said,
Stardock does this to, garbage company, but are dells really worth it ive always seen them as being fairly overpriced, that and their support is in india and its atrocious

You're absolutely right!

Should somebody create an unofficial support site for Dell, where people can actually talk about their problems without being scrutinized by Dell themselves? Or would Dell most probable try to close the site down? it seems Dell is up to a lot of no good, covering up here there and everywhere to stop their ratings going down!

I bought a 2007WFP a while back with 3yr "no questions asked" warrenty cover.

Spontaneously combusted during its last year (huge internal psu failure, yellow flames & flickering screen), they swapped it out the next day for a Dell 2208WFP which has been good to me and very happy.

Monitors yes, PC's etc? No thanks.

Heh... I had a similar problem with Dell a few years ago. I ordered a 24 inch monitor and their Dell branded 5.1 speakers that attach to the monitor. I wait a week and nothing happened. Then one day they canceled the entire order outright, without any explanation or notice. I called them up and they said the speakers I ordered were discontinued, so they canceled the entire order. I was forced to make two separate orders, one for my monitor and another for a different set of speakers. A few weeks later the speakers that I originally wanted were available again.

And the CSR was in India, so he wasn't the most sympathetic or competent (not to say that all Indian call centers are incompetent... just most)